Friday, February 21, 2020

Welcome to "The Secret Garden Guide!"

Ethnobotanicals have long since been a source of interest for worldwide studies, the relationship between the people and plants and their corresponding effects.

This Guide is dedicated to providing unbiased and detailed reviews of common ethnobotanicals, primarily Kratom and Kava, the perfect stop for consumers, vendors and enthusiasts alike.


Thursday, September 1, 2016

DEA Categorizing Kratom as Schedule I September 30th

Extremely disappointing news has surfaced. See above embedded video to hear Hercules' thought provoking view on the matter. For those who have found kratom to be of genuine medicinal benefit and not yet heard, the big boys at the DEA have decided that as of September 30th, 2016 Kratom and its alkaloids will be categorized as a Schedule I drug alongside historically harmful chemicals as heroin and cocaine. Anyone familiar with this plant should know quite well that this is an extreme measure, and groups such as AKA (American Kratom Association) are taking measures to defuse the situation.

We are sad to announce The Secret Garden Guide will no longer be reviewing kratom, and our old reviews will remain strictly for archival purposes. As much as we hate to put the days of this natural wonder behind, it should be affirmed that The SGG is an ethnobotanical publication, not a kratom publication and our name needs to be preserved. The SGG was founded on principles of integrity and part of that integrity circumventing any unnecessary controversy. Although our primary focus has been on kratom this past year and a half, we will be shifting gears and covering other medicinally beneficial, legal ethnobotanicals such as kava (Piper methysticum), various herbal remedies and other holistic medicines.

In the meantime, here are some useful links for those looking to take some action. These links will be updated. Any unlisted links pertinent to the banning of kratom can be suggested to or posted as a comment to this article.

All of this being said, the "war" isn't over just yet. AKA and other organizations/individuals have been making swift movements using their influence in attempt to protect the legality and availability of a naturally occurring tree whose leaves have given many pain and addiction patients clean relief.

In addition, it is worth mentioning any companies who wish to have their reviews removed for peace of mind or any proper authorities who consider leaving kratom reviews online contradictory to changing laws, please feel free to e-mail to discuss such matters. With reviews of over 100 kratom products, we've had a fantastic run guiding readers toward many professional, honest, quality companies. We have sponsored contests amounting to over 7 kilograms in prizes. Most importantly, we have met many great people in the kratom community who will remain close friends.

Stay tuned for any updates in links and info. A very special thanks goes out to all of our devoted readers, and we hope you will continue to look towards us for info and reviews on various ethnobotanicals and herbal remedies.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Soul Speciosa Ultra Enhanced Indo

UEI's are notorious for their potency at lower volumes. Custom made, a typical process involves starting with premium leaf, refining that leaf, and adding a pre-determined ratio of pure alkaloid to regular leaf. For those curious parties interested in the scientific breakdown of kratom alkaloids, you can find a detailed list on the Kratom Science's forum.

UEI's high potency factor makes for a desirable product to those looking for a more intense scent in their kratom. If regular leaf doesn't cut it, UEI is bound to. One downside is price, which is usually significantly elevated because of its power and the manual labor involved in the developing process.

Depending on the process and the isolated alkaloid formula, different companies have markedly different qualities of UEI, as they are typically custom manufactured in-house or purchased wholesale from another company who specializes in making such a product. Typically residing on the much more relaxing end of the spectrum, I have in fact run into UEI's with a little edge to it.

Soul Speciosa's UEI doesn't disappoint. It is definitely on the "red" end of the spectrum. According to one of the representatives, "this is the same UEI formula that Kratom connoisseurs have grown to love. Very closely a return to the original formula supply by Speciosa Specialists, years ago. Standardized to contain 250mg of pure alkaloid per five grams of material. This comes out to a 5% alkaloid content."

POTENCY: 8.9/10 - Soul Speciosa's UEI is a strong, rich blend that is not likely to disappoint even connoisseurs.
VALUE: 8.0/10 (starts at $44.99 for 5g) - A single burning session (1g-2g recommended) for most users will average out to about $5-$10 depending on experience.
OVERALL: 8.6/10 - A solid blend that will leave a grin on your face for a couple hours before finding yourself lured into a slumber.

Sample generously provided by Soul Speciosa

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Fledgling Experiment w/ Christopher's Organic Botanicals

The following detailed account of a first-time kratom experience (with Christopher's Organic Botanicals) has been written by one of our new assistant reviewers, AJ (Average Joe).

I'm a man of few and far-between recreational indulgences, but from time to time I become curious enough to dabble in tinctures of the shamans. Therefore, this review is by no means a connoisseur's, but is from the perspective of the inexperienced, first time user of kratom incense, with the aim allowing other inexperienced to vicariously walk the path for the first time. So fire up those mirror neurons and let the journey begin!

About Kratom
According to Wikipedia, "Mitragyna speciosa (also known as ketum or kratom) is a tropical deciduous and evergreen tree in the coffee family (Rubiaceae) native to Southeast Asia in the Indochina and Malaysia floristic regions. M. speciosa is indigenous to Thailand where it has been used in traditional medicine … kratom leaves have been used for medicinal purposes by nomadic tribes throughout history." No further comment required, you get the gist.

Photo by AJ
The Journey Begins
After research, my journey begins when I'm put in touch with Christopher of Christopher’s Organic Botanicals. Our correspondence was friendly, which made me feel more comfortable about my new impending experience. I was given heads up and a tracking number when my package shipped.

My package was discreetly packed, and varieties were vacuum sealed for freshness. Online transactions can sometimes feel unnerving for any first time experience with a merchant, however Christopher’s friendliness set my mind at ease. Looking further into the company, I found their website to be very upfront with facts including regions of legality and even a scientific-looking, thorough alkaloid content breakdown.

As with any experiment of science, different amounts of a substance will yield different results. What amount of kratom is optimal? How much will yield what effect? Time to break out the beakers and triple beam scales, IT'S TIME TO DO SCIENCE!

  • After a 9 mile hike in the blazing LA sun and a couple hours rest, I’m feeling a bit sore and out of it. Perfect time to see what this stuff is made of! But I’m not ready to jump in head first quite yet. Stepping in, I measure a teaspoon of Green Kapaus Hulu. While I’m not used to measuring things in grams, my research shows that a 5ml teaspoon of kratom is ~4.5 grams. With the bravery of a team of elite military parachuters, my mission begins. Time to chill and let the troops do their job. 4.5g being on the lower end of recommended partaking, the effects were a mild euphoria and mild energy boost. I would definitely feel comfortable enjoying this amount while being functional in a social environment. A few hours later, the effects reverse and I readily drift into a peaceful sleep.
  • The day after a hike is the worst, your body is sore, you ache, and need relief. Perfect time to try my next strain, Red Maeng Da. I measure out about 7 grams worth and put my handy macha stirrer whisk to work. The 'scent' reminds me of a bittered matcha flavor. My experience is best described as quite relaxing for a couple hours, followed by a rather annoying come-down which I kill by drifting into a nap. I believe I’ve reached above my limit, dictated by this come-down. All-in-all I take this as a good sign that not as much is needed to get the job done.
  • With a tip toe back into my review process, my next experience is with ½ teaspoon (just over 2 grams) of white maeng da. I've been forewarned of its strength. Today I'm going out and about with the family and need to remain completely functional as we make a fun family video. An hour or so later I’m riding a nice energy boost and the feeling is so natural I forgot I partook in my kratom incense. A few hours later and I have a light come down which I rest off. The best description for my experience is something of an intense cup of coffee with a comedown of inverse value. Enjoyable, productive, but once you start to run out of steam be ready to nap it off.
  • At this point I feel I’m starting to get a grasp of how kratom operates, but I want to revisit the green and recheck my very first experience with a lower dosage than the first pataking. This time I go with ½ teaspoon (about 2 grams) of Green Vietnam. This amount was a sweet spot for the white, so let’s give it a go with the green. I found this amount to provide a gentle boost of energy and sociability, not quite as effective as the white.

It would make absolutely no sense for a noob to talk of refined aspects of strains. That said, the basics are green & white gives a nice energy boost, red gives a relaxation. From what I’ve gathered about the finer aspects of specific strains for white, red, green - it may be something like that of wine tasting. Some people have the palate and attention to discern specific types within the green family, others not so readily- and as a truth, not every substance affects everyone the exact same way.

Photo by AJ
Kratom is a cheap, effective way to put you in the appropriate mood. There is a comedown of inverse value, so I plan to incorporate it into my creative routine before bedtime. If you're on the fence as to whether or not to give kratom a try, I can recommend that your experience - at the least - will be a pleasant, fun experience, and a break from the day-to-day grind of clock-in-clock-out. I imagined my experience with kratom would be a one-time fling, but I see myself as a repeat customer in the future, it’s a cheap, legal, hassle free activity. My very positive experience with Christopher’s Organic Botanicals adds that extra layer of comfort.

Samples generously provided by Christopher's Organic Botanicals

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

"Amazing Kratom" Red, White and Green Review

Amazing Kratom is a seemingly new company with a simple website and relatively limited selection. Suffice it to say, this "relatively limited selection" has its merits. I was sent Green Maeng Da, Green Vein Indo, Red Vein Bali and White Maeng Da.

Amazing's Red Vein Bali kicks off with a soothing aroma around 20 minutes after burning. This light, soft feeling of contentment rides into a more sedative wave. Coast this growing wave until the the hour-and-a-half peak, subsequently slowing down for the next hour with a sleepy afterglow. For this reason in particular, this is a good strain to use as a nightcap. For those who can handle the sedation, this red won't straight knock you on your back like some, but will leave a tinge of fogginess toward the end.

POTENCY: 8.6/10
VALUE: 9.3/10 ($6.99/oz.)
OVERALL: 8.7/10

Green Maeng Da and Green Indo aren't too terribly different. Both provide a well balanced boost, a clean aroma with hardly any notable notions of rapid comedown. Indo arguably packs more energy while Maeng Da has more of a comforting aura and less so an energy boost.

POTENCY: 8.6/10 (MD), 8.7/10 (Indo)
VALUE: 9.3/10 ($6.99/oz.)
OVERALL: 8.7/10

Their White Maeng Da is equally as bold as the greens and red AK sent. Much like the greens, but with a more marked energy boost, this is yet again another fantastic day strain--or more specifically morning. Be aware that, like many other white strains, their scent can delay or reduce quality sleep if taken before bedtime. On the flip-side, this is perfect for mornings. A less notable crash than even a cup of coffee lingers temporarily without too much bother. 

POTENCY : 8.7/10
VALUE: 9.3/10 ($6.99/oz.)
OVERALL: 8.8/10

AK also sell capsules for interested parties. Each capsule contains a 500mg equivalent to ground leaf. It makes for a more presentable, albeit slightly more expensive purchase. $6.99 for 28g of ground leaf translates into $14.99 for 20g (40 capsules), a rate of ~$25.69 for the same amount of ground leaf. In perspective, this pushes four-fold inflation for the equal weight (on the lowest order tier), a relatively hefty service fee. For those serious about devising capsules containing kratom one might find it more beneficial to do so with an inexpensive capping machine, but don't expect the job to be easy on your own either. The sacrifice of money for convenience is entirely up to personal preference--the material is the same for both powder and their respective capsule equivalents.

Amazing Kratom is indeed quite incredible at their powder prices. For those who prefer to store their kratom in capsules with no intentions of purchasing a capping machine the price is significantly steeper. All said, all four of these strains offer an exemplary experience of what great kratom should be. No reader who finds kratom of benefit to their lifestyle should hesitate to order their $1 sample offer and consider placing Amazing's products in your permanent rotation.

Silver Leaf worthy indeed.

Samples generously provided by Amazing Kratom.